Lakia Association for the Improvement of Women’s Status, Israel/Palestine – Empowering women through education

Naama AlSana, the director of the Desert Embroidery Project and Asmaa AlSana, the executive director of Lakia. Photo: © Ines FischerNaama AlSana, the director of the Desert Embroidery Project and Asmaa AlSana, the executive director of Lakia. Photo: © Ines FischerArea of intervention: the Bedouin settlement Laika (close to Beersheba), Israel

Supported by TDF since: 2003

Target group: Bedouin women


  • The Negev desert has been the home of approximately 220.000 nomadic Bedouins for a long time.
  • Since the beginning of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict many of them have been forced to flee and their land has been expropriated. Almost half of the Bedouins are forced to live in settlements that are  declared “illegal” by the Israeli state, leading to a lack of even the most basic infrastructure, such as access to electricity or water, schools and hospitals.
  • The living conditions of women are particularly difficult: forced to settle down, their freedom of movement and assigned duties within the household became more restricted. Due to strong patriarchal family structures, many women are affected by social and financial dependency, domestic violence, and disadvantages in education.
  • Another problem is the fact, that polygamy is still prevalent in the Bedouin society, even though it is forbidden by Israeli law. Women are forced to accept polygamy, fearing that they will lose their children if they divorce their husband.

Project activities:

Founded and managed by Bedouin women, the work of Lakia Women’s Association concentrates on (educational) empowerment of girls and women, promoting their freedom of choice and independence. 

Some current project activities:

  • Project Desert Embroidery, which provides the participants with alternative income opportunities and promotes the free development of their talents and abilities. The project also has a visitor centre in which the products are presented during a traditional tea ceremony to interested visitor groups from all over the world. In 2017, the number of visitor groups accounted for 250. Additionally, the project offers its products on their own website or through the website of the NGO “Green Olive Collective”.
  • Project Youth Leadership: Round table discussions for young women encourage the participants to talk about issues usually avoided at home. Further trainings on human rights, marketing or project development are offered. Moreover, critical workshops for men are also organized to discuss and eventually break open discriminative role models.
  • In cooperation with schools in Lakia, Lakia Women’s Association organizes pedagogical programs and holiday courses for children and young adults.
  • A mobile library with Hebrew, Arabic and English books tours through Lakia and illegalized Bedouin settlements. The “book bus” has been operating on the basis of private donations for a long time, but in 2017, the organization firstly received governmental aid within the scope of a program by the Israeli cultural ministry. Since October 2017, 10 Bedouin villages can be served and in total approximately 2.000 children profit from the mobile library.


  • Even though in the beginning there was certain resistance within the Bedouin community, Lakia Women’s Association now is an established and well-known women’s rights organisation in the region. In 2015, director Naama Al Sana has been rewarded with the Rappaport Lifetime Award for Women Generating Change in Israeli Society and in 2016, she received the Negev Ben Gurion Award.
  • Especially the empowerment of young Bedouin women was successful: more Bedouin girls than ever attend school or study at the university of Beersheba. All participants of the offered English and mathematics courses from 2014-2017 have successfully passed their exams and have thus the opportunity to attend higher education.
  • The mobile library has proven to be a very effective medium of education: around 2.000 children have regular access to books, taking them home to their mothers and families.
  • Through the project “Desert Embroidery”, women are being supported on their way to economic independence.
  • Intercultural cooperation has been strengthened during the last two years: several meetings of women organized by Lakia Women’s Association and a Jewish Kibbutz close by contributed to pacific inter-religious exchange.

Project leader: Asmaa AlSana

Contacts: Voluntary project coordinator Ines Fischer (
or TERRE DES FEMMES – International Cooperation (

Your support is needed:

  • for the improvement of infrastructure, which is vital to the acquisition and transportation of materials,
  • the marketing of the embroidery products, as well as to guarantee proper working conditions,
  • the empowerment and education of young women,
  • the organization of roundtable discussions for girls and women.

You can also directly support the participants of the Project Desert Embroidery.

Support Lakia with a one-time donation or contribute regularly and become a sponsor!

You can also donate to the following account, using the keyword “Israel-Palestine” as a reference for your payment:

IBAN DE35 8309 4495 0103 1160 00